The Mara received above average rainfall in the past year, with most of the rain falling between November and February – see Tables below courtesy of Dr Stephanie Dloniak.
In August we had one or two thunderstorms and a few evenings with light drizzle but for the most part, the month was dry.
On the 20th we held a meeting between our Chairman County Council, Warden Operations, Administrators and senior staff from Narok County Council on the issue of traversing rights and game viewing fees. We were unable to reach an agreement and another meeting was scheduled for the 30th at Mara Serena but the Narok team never arrived.
We held a meeting with the Deputy Clerk, County Council of Trans Mara, on the 21st. We discussed access roads to the Mara and the cost of maintaining roads in the Triangle.
The Minister for Immigration called a meeting with Chief Executive and camp owners based outside the Reserve on the 28th to discuss support for the Oloisukut Community Conservation Trust. The Minister requested financial support from the Conservancy and camps so that the Trust can develop and increase the area under conservation. The camp owners said that they would give their response by the end of the first week in September.
Dr Asuka Takita has vaccinated 1,850 dogs against rabies and canine distemper along the escarpment adjacent to the Triangle. Both diseases are transmittable to wildlife and we hope that this will contain canine distemper and stop it from transferring to the canine and feline species within the Park. We are most grateful to Anne Kent-Taylor for her support to this programme.
A number of lionesses with young cubs were seen during the month. Two lionesses had small cubs near Mara Bridge and another four cubs were seen near Myles Turner’s hill.
The wildebeest started crossing the river in earnest in early August, with some very large crossings between Serena and Mara Bridge. Most of the wildebeest then turned South West and returned into the Lemai Wedge and along the Kenya/Tanzania border and by the end of the month there were very large concentrations of wildebeest and zebra towards the salt-lick and Ngiro-are.
Cleopatra, a female cheetah was seen with very severe mange towards the end of the month and a KWS veterinarian was called in to treat her. She was darted on the 30th and unfortunately died whilst undergoing treatment. Cleopatra was prone to mange and had been treated for a less severe case in the past. She was a very small animal, about five years old, who had never successfully raised a litter of cubs.
We conducted our routine staff transfers on the 15th and at the same implemented a number of staff promotions that had been pending for some time.
We have taken on the Anne Kent-Taylor community scouts and given them contracts, the costs will be reimbursed by the Anne Kent-Taylor Fund. We appointed Sgt S Kerwa to oversee all the community scouts and ensure that they are given tasks.
The influx of vehicles from the other side of the river continues to cause major problems, especially at crossing points. There were days when there were over 50 vehicles, most of them from Narok, jostling for a position once a crossing commenced. On one occasion there were 120 vehicles at a crossing, over 90 of them from the Narok side of the river.
A total of 31 wa Kuria poachers were arrested during August, all of them in Tanzania; this brings the total arrests to 883. Over 150 wire snares were recovered. During the month we also recovered one group of stolen cattle. In six years only eight cattle have been stolen, driven through the Triangle and not recovered. Some of these were then recovered much later when they were impounded by the Serengeti rangers for illegal grazing and some of the cattle identified by our staff.
We look forward to hosting security personnel from the Lewa Conservancy, the first group of 10 rangers are scheduled to arrive on the 1st September for one week.
On the 31st July the Serena team arrested four wa Kuria poachers who had been hunting near Bologonja, in the Serengeti for a week. They poachers had killed one warthog and one wildebeest; seven wire snares were recovered.
The Ngiro-are team arrested one poacher at 5.00 am on the 1st, another five escaped. The same afternoon the team arrested another two poachers as the entered the park near Kasarani, in the Lemai Wedge. 15 wire snares were recovered but no animals had been killed.
On the 3rd the Ngiro-are team arrested six wa Kuria poachers along the Mara River, downstream from Kokatende. Five wire snares were recovered and no animals had been killed. The same day the Serena team chased 12 poachers in the Na-mailumbwa Hills but failed to arrest any of them.
The Serena and Ngiro-are teams arrested two wa Kuria poachers on the 9th near “Maji ya Bett”, in the Konyoike region of the Lemai Wedge. The poachers had killed and butchered two wildebeest and another two were found dead in wire snares. 14 wire snares were recovered.
A routine patrol; found fresh signs of poaching near Konyoike on the 12th. In one place at least 14 wildebeest had been killed and butchered. In another two wildebeest had been killed and butchered in a camp that had been left that morning, two wire snares were recovered. We set up an operation for the following night, with four vehicles and rangers from Serena, Ngiro-are and Kinyangaga and arrested 11 poachers as they started to hunt at 10.30 pm. They were part of a very large group of about 50 poachers and they had killed one young wildebeest when apprehended. We are seeing fewer small groups hunting at night and these large groups are the norm these days.
We sent out a three day patrol on the 22nd to operate in the northern Serengeti, with teams from Serena, Ngiro-are and Kokatende. They saw little sign of poaching near Na-mailumbwa but did see signs along the Mara River, downstream from Saiyari Camp. One poacher was arrested on the night of the 24th.
28 Masai cattle were stolen from Kisiara, a livestock owner near Kawai on the night of the 24th by wa Kuria. The theft was not discovered until the following morning and we were not informed until 7.00 am. We immediately sent out a patrol and flew to look for the cattle, they were discovered in Tanzania, on the escarpment. Some were recovered by our rangers and eight of them were taken by the wa Kuria to their nearest police station and handed over. All 28 animals were accounted for.
Two wa Kuria poachers were arrested at 3.00 am, on the night of the 28th by the Ngiro-are team. They were part of a larger group, of 11 poachers who were on their way into the Lemai Wedge to hunt. 30 wire snares were recovered. The following morning the same rangers arrested one more poacher who was on his way into the Serengeti, with a companion to hunt. 9 wire snares were recovered.
One poacher was arrested on the night of the 30th,at about 7.30 pm, by the Serena team in the Lemai Wedge. He was on his own and was going to meet up at a pre-arranged rendezvous with others. 63 wire snares were recovered near Kinyangaga on the same day.
Revenue and Accounts
We completed the Annual Audit and held a meeting with Deloittes to go through the Financial Statement and Management Letter, the accounts were then circulated the report to the Board for review.
The summary of the year’s draft audited accounts shows the following:
The major item affecting Income was in writing off the Loan to the Mara Conservation Trust by Ms Leslie Roach and Ms Alison Jones. Without this, our surplus for the year would have been in the region of Ksh 4.7 million – similar to last year’s surplus. Major increases in expenditure included staff costs, primarily the implementation of the Government imposed salary increases to Council staff. This went up from Ksh 23 million to 28.8 million. We also had a considerable increase in commissions for revenue collection, depreciation and in machine running expenses. Finance costs mainly related to exchange rate losses brought about by the decreasing value of the US$ in relation to the Kenya Shilling – the US$ depreciated by nearly 10% during the year.
The contracts for the Roads 2000 programme have been awarded and it looks as if work ready to commence, the first equipment arrived on the 31st. This will make the main road between Oloololo gate and Mara Bridge into an all-weather road and work should be complete before the onset of the rains in November.
We concentrated on the Japanese funded project to upgrade the river track into an all weather road. Work is very slow and expensive and we managed to complete 100 metres during the month, at this rate it will take over one year to complete the road.
The grader worked on the road between Oloololo Gate and Little Governors and then moved onto the road along the escarpment.
We purchased all our requirements re-started work on the Sergeants housing at Serena. This project will be completed within two months.
We have approval for the purchase of the new grader and have arranged finance through Stanbic Bank. The new grader is expected in September
Report on focus for August
Focus for September
· Continue on Japanese Road;
· Start on upgrading Oloololo to Mara Bridge road;
· Host security personnel from Lewa;
· Hold Board Meeting and approve accounts;
· Complete purchase of new grader;
· Purchase uniforms; and
· Continue discussions with Narok on traversing rights and game viewing fees;